Why building trust is essential to mastering your sales prospecting
Trust is the very basis of successful sales execution. Without trust your customers are unlikely to be committed to the sales process, resulting in a sales pipeline which is patchy, unpredictable, impossible to forecast and therefore hard to strategise.
Replacing luck with trust
Many sales professionals are likely to find themselves in the position of this particular salesman, who for the purpose of this article will be called Gregory.
Gregory was convinced a big deal would come his way; he hoped for this deal and was counting on the opportunity, which he needed to make his target. He had a few deals in the pipeline, but the others had slipped yet again.
Last week his prospect told him everything looked good and that the deal would be signed before the end of the month, but this morning he received a short e-mail from another department stating that another project had been given priority.
Things suddenly looked very bad for Gregory. How could he ever get close to his target like this? How would he tell his Sales Director? Why couldnt he just be lucky for once?
Ive seen this scenario countless times over the years.
Unfortunately, these kinds of bad surprises happen to salespeople all too often. What Gregory and many others experience is the result of failing to build enough trust and commitment with their prospect during the early stages of the sales or buying process.
Yes, trust building is indeed the biggest challenge when it comes to the acquisition game.
But it gets even more complicated when a prospect appears to be a complex buying organisation with multiple stakeholders across different departments. When these departments have different interests and stakes in the buying process, sales invariably get complicated.
You might not just sell to one person within the prospect organisation, but may might need to address all the different buyer-stakeholders in order to get that all-important buy-in.
When these buyers have interests that are not immediately visible to you, and when you fail to address these needs altogether in your sales-offer, you get into trouble – just like Gregory did. The challenge of multiple stakeholders Did you know that on average 7.1* people are involved in a B2B purchasing decision?
This means that sales people need to look much further than their usual contact. In many sales situations these days, ultimate approval doesnt come from one single decision maker but a buying committee, whose interests need to be taken into account when formulating a successful sales pitch.
Naturally, the more stakeholders out of this buying committee you fail to address – with their own specific needs and interests – the higher your risk of failure.
Therefore, in order to maximise the chances of sales success, a salesperson needs to establish a thorough and firm understanding of all people (and their needs) involved in the buying process and gain a firm insight into how you can solve their requirements effectively and efficiently.
Besides providing them with everything they need to know about your solutions, prices, terms and conditions, you also need to deep-dive in your prospect’s market and organisation and understand every individual stake of each buyer within your prospect organisation.
After you finally got past the first gate-keeper and followed-through in the sales process, it would be shame to fall down at this critical next hurdle.
Many of the sales people I encounter have too little insight in what is happening on the buying side. Their focus is so much on their own process, bullishness or fears that they forget to understand what is happening on the prospect’s side.
Establishing a sufficient level of trust is often the furthest consideration from the minds of salespeople, but it is the only thing that matters when it comes to acquisition.
This gets even more complicated when trust needs to be established between the seller and a multitude of stakeholders on the buying side. After all, who said a sales job was easy?
Three steps to building trust Im often asked how salespeople can build deeper levels of trust with their prospects.
Although there is no quick fix to this, there are three key-dimensions that function as a vital stepping-stone towards achieving the trust level that is needed to initiate and maintain a successful sales pipeline:
1. Integrity Values and Purpose
Ask yourself; why do you come to sell? What is your intention? Is it just to make quick money? or is your sales effort coming from a firm belief that you can help your customer to achieve a better business and overcome challenges?
Yuri van der Sluis is an internationally established sales expert and author of ?Trust Me, I?m a Salesman?. Yuri has been the CEO and B2B Sales Improvement Expert at Trust2Sales for more than 12 years. The business has helped approx. 12,000 sales professionals within 200 companies in Europe, USA & Middle East achieving commercial success. As founder of Trust2Sales, Yuri has personally analysed commercial teams, helped them to improve their results, analysed their sales processes, consulted on sales strategies and translated that into specific materials ensuring newly acquired work methods and skills fit the phase of the organization and business environment they are in.